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Big Ten basketball power rankings, Week 2: More games, less clarity

If you hoped a week of conference play would help figure out the conference hierarchy, well, too bad.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

These fluctuated a ton from last week. With so many teams finally playing peer-level opponents after the usual up-and-down quality of non-conference play, things got weird.

1. Wisconsin (14-1 [2-0]/AP #4/KP 4)

2. Maryland (14-1 [2-0]/AP #11/KP 17)

I almost did it. I almost went full blown homer and put Maryland at the top spot. Thankfully, I respect KenPom too much and Wisconsin has significantly better numbers. The Badgers beat two of the three worst teams in the conference in the opening week of B1G play while Maryland beat two potential tournament teams (albeit both are squarely bubble teams right now), including a gutty road win in one of the conference's toughest arenas. These are clearly the two teams to beat right now, but even the most ardent Terp homer like myself cannot put them at one...yet.

Next up: vs. Purdue (1/7)

Next up: at Illinois (1/7)

3. Ohio State (12-3 [1-1]/AP #22/KP 18)

The Buckeyes played both games at home this week, losing to Iowa and blowing the doors off Illinois in the second half. They're overall a solid team that really struggles against anyone they aren't overwhelming with talent. All 12 of their wins have been by double digits but none of them are in the KenPom top 50, while their three loses are against the only good teams they've played: the aforementioned Hawkeyes, Louisville and North Carolina.

Next up: at Minnesota (1/6)

4. Iowa (10-4 [1-0]/KP 34)

I know they beat the team ranked ahead of them in the only conference game they've played, but it's not by much. It comes down to the advanced stats and inconsistency of Iowa. If I did these rankings tomorrow and they beat Nebraska tonight to go 2-0, I might have them third.

Next up: vs. Nebraska (1/5)

5. Indiana (11-3 [1-0]/KP 44)

This is another purely statistical ranking. Indiana's offense is going to keep it almost every game it plays but their defense is so, so bad. When a team has one half of the ball this much of a liability - 200th in AdjD - it's hard to feel confident about the Hoosiers. They looked really impressive in the first half at Nebraska, but struggled down the stretch and only won by five. Their core of Troy Williams, Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. are as good as there is offensively.

Next up: at Michigan State (1/5)

6. Michigan State (9-5 [0-1]/KP 22)

The numbers continue to like Sparty, but they completely blew the game against Maryland and their talent level is just not what we've come to expect from a Tom Izzo team. Brandon Dawson is a good player, as are Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine, but on classic MSU teams, those are role players around one or two go-to guys. There is no Gary Harris or Draymond Green and that's what's keeping them from the upper tier of the Big Ten.

Next up: vs. Indiana (1/5)

7. Illinois (10-5 [0-2]/KP 56)

8. Minnesota (11-4 [0-2]/KP 36)

I'll group these two together because they're both enigmas. Illinois has way to much talent to be struggling this much, while Minnesota's punching above their weight talent-wise, but just not enough to compete with the top of the conference. Michigan has been widely regarded as the biggest disappointment in the Big Ten, but for me it's Illinois. They should be so fun to watch with *potential* firepower of Kendrick Nunn, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill and Aaron Crosby but their offense is brutal and disorganized. On the other hand, Minnesota is a sound, balanced team that knows it's identity. They just don't have the bodies to fully capitalize.

Next up: vs. Maryland (1/7)

Next up: vs. Ohio State (1/6)

9. Purdue (10-5 [2-0]/KP 75)

Congrats, Boilers! Two conference wins to start the year, a tie for first place...y'all are flying high! What's next? The Badgers in Madison then hosting Maryland.

Next up: at Wisconsin (1/7)

10. Michigan (8-6 [1-1]/KP 91)

Michigan made a dramatic comeback to beat Illinois in overtime but got stomped by Purdue a few days later. They remain horrible offensively (128th in AdjO) which is so weird for a John Beilein coached team.

Next up: at Penn State (1/6)

11. Nebraska (8-5 [0-1]/KP 102)

I have nothing to say about Nebraska basketball right now, so I guess it's back to normal and last year was a fluke. Good times.

Next up: at Iowa (1/5)

12. Rutgers (9-6 [1-1]/KP 154)

They beat Penn State. They won't go 0-18 in conference. They are still so, so awful, but having a single Big Ten win keeps them out of the bottom spot for now.

Next up: at Nebraska (1/8)

13. Northwestern (10-5 [1-1]/ KP 135)

There's not much to say about the Wildcats in terms of their team as a whole, so we'll use this space to discuss Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh is a freshman point guard leading his team in the following categories: minutes, assists and points. That's positively Trimblesque.

Next up: at Michigan State (1/11)

14. Penn State (12-3 [0-2]/KP 92)

I don't actually think Penn State is the worst team in the conference, but if you follow up getting blown out by Wisconsin (not a big deal) by losing to Rutgers (unforgivable), you have no real argument to the contrary. Every non-PSU fan with a brain knew their 12-1 record coming into conference play was a house of cards, but not many expected it to be toppled by Rutgers. Seriously, they lost to Rutgers. In basketball. In a game in which Rutgers scored 50 points. Don't do that.

Next up: vs. Michigan (1/6)